“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.” – Eckhart Tolle
There I sat listening to my mother. I knew that what she was saying was important to her, but my mind had wandered. Instead, I was thinking about a big project due at work next week.
With all the weight of presenting a complex project that would blow my client’s minds, I honestly didn’t hear a word my mother said, and she could tell. Eventually, she just stopped talking.
I told her, “Sorry. Work’s just been so hectic. Can you repeat it for me?”
She just shook her head. Not in anger per se but more out of frustration. She wanted me to be present at that moment to help her analyze her feelings, and instead, my ego had taken over.
My ego thought that my identity was wrapped in a future performance. Therefore, I allowed it to run away with my present moment and thrust me into future scenarios. The ego is only worried about its own preservation and that means controlling as many aspects of life as it can.
Even time itself.
The ego uses time as either a means to an end, an obstacle, and even an enemy to generate more scenarios to strengthen its’ identity and avoid threats. The ego detests the present moment.
To keep the ego, that is only interested in the horizontal transient aspects of life, under control and to maintain a connection with the vertical direction of who you truly are, use the following 5 practical ways to stay present and bring forth your authentic self.
Eckhart explains in Chapter 7 of his book, “A New Earth”, that the closer you are to appreciating the present moment, the closer you are to knowing yourself. The past and future cannot define who you are. Your ego cannot define it.
The only constant in life is the present moment. The past was once it, and the future will be it. But until then, enjoy this very moment. Whatever feelings your ego may be experiencing, pull back and look at it from your space of awareness and simply let it be.
Every time we challenge ourselves physically we make a choice to fully engage our mind and body in the task at hand. This opens the opportunity to be totally present. Physical exercise helps many people ‘get out of their head’. Use every workout to be fully immersed in the sensations, possibilities, challenges and flow of energy moment by moment.
Once you taste and experience presence in your workouts, take the same awareness out of the studio, off the equipment into your everyday life. Feel your feet on the earth during difficult interactions, sense the movement and quality of your breath when your ego provokes old stories to hijack you off somewhere else, anywhere else but here and now.
It’s easy to be present when experiencing things that you enjoy. The challenge is to be present all the time, regardless of whether you like what’s happening or not. Acceptance and non-resistance of the moment is key. Witness what’s happening without words for just a few minutes to practice accepting and embracing the present moment.
This may be the single most miraculous tool for staying present and connected to the depths of your Being. Ask yourself “What can I be grateful for in this moment?”
Finding gratitude has been linked to happier and more productive days. It helps you realize that while many things in your life may be going ‘wrong’, there is still something to be thankful for and, it’s likely, there are more things going ‘right’ than ‘wrong’. As a side note, remember, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are distinctions the ego draws. Life is often far too complex to label right/wrong or good/bad. We’re living full color these days, nothing is black and white.
To gain control, enrich the moment by being grateful for something in life.
Pause. Breathe in the moment. At any point, you can find a multitude of things to thank the powers that be for. There is so much we take for granted until it’s gone or compromised; especially our health, our freedom and our family.
Realize where your life is and where it could be. Consider the enormous number of people living in poverty in war torn areas on our planet. Rest in that moment and allow gratitude to fill you. Your time is finite. You have an expiration date. Practice gratitude for every season, month, day and moment.
Learn how to say ‘yes’ to the present.
It sounds like an easy enough concept, but to truly do this you have to learn how to surrender to that moment. You must learn to trust life and believe wholeheartedly in the power of the present.
Oftentimes we shrink from life and say no to avoid the unknown, to avoid being hurt, looking ‘bad’ or feeling inept. It isn’t life that hurts us. It’s the attachment to ego and our pain bodies, our old emotional stories that cause suffering.
But life? Life wants to happen to and for you. It’s just waiting for you to say yes. It’s waiting for you to see that your life is made up of fresh present moments you’ve never had. It wants you to live in each one of those moments fully. It wants you to experience everything that it has to offer you, unpolluted by old programming.
This doesn’t mean be a doormat and be taken advantage of. Sometimes, a high-quality NO is in order. But tease apart the emotion and story so that it doesn’t make the other person wrong. It’s simply saying no, I won’t do that. This is very hard to do with no emotion. Be sure that saying no to one thing means you are saying yes to something more important and aligned with your highest Self.
Tolle explains that looking at the present moment as the enemy only gives rise to emotions of fear, anxiety, expectation, regret, guilt, or anger. This is because your ego knows time isn’t something it can control. Time will continue to happen regardless of the ego’s actions.
Your ego uses this as fuel for all the negative emotions it can find. It thrives under pressure, which does not benefit us. Sometimes the ego’s fixation on time in relation to whatever situation we may be dealing with can generate inactivity. This is where we are so overwhelmed by the thought of time and what we must do, that we literally cannot do anything.
When you’re racing ahead, stuck in the past or immobilized: stop, close your eyes, and take a conscious breath.
No words. No analyzing. Simply breathe. It may help to say to yourself Breathing in. Breathing out.
In that breath, become aware that thoughts and emotions do not define you. You are more than this. Continue breathing in and out to cultivate awareness. Then open your eyes and tackle whatever ego is trying to attach itself to with that same awareness.
Any time you find yourself looking ahead in fear, back in anger or feeling trapped in time, try taking a few conscious breaths, You are worthy of being present without being hijacked.
Oh boy. Now we’ve reached the pinnacle of practicing Presence. Can you allow the diminishment of ego without trying to repair it, restore it or justify it?
“The ego is always on guard against any kind of perceived diminishment. Automatic ego-repair mechanisms come into effect to restore the mental form of me’. When someone blames or criticizes ‘me’, that to the ego is a diminishment of self, and it will immediately attempt to repair its diminished sense of self through self-justification, defense or blaming”.
This is true self-awareness; your ability to be non-reactive when attacked, to be voluntarily non-defensive. Start by practicing in easy situations, like traffic, since urban areas are rife with opportunities due to congestion. Resist the temptation to react if someone happens to call you a jerk, cut you off or flip you off.
Progress to personal interactions with co-workers and family members. When you feel your sense of self threatened, blamed or called names, notice the reactivity rise. Pause. Breathe. Do nothing. Feel the uncomfortableness. Allow ego to be diminished. And realize that will make room for the deeper you, your Being, to come forth.
Every day presents opportunities to truly know yourself. There is a part of you that is in-describable and it’s found through Presence, harnessing the power of breath, leaning into Life, trusting the process and welcoming the part of you that just witnesses without words. That’s a human Being. The more we awaken this aspect of ourselves, the more fully alive we are which leads to prosperity!
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